Successful Software Testing – Communication is Everything

Image © Juja Schneider

Continue reading this article if one of the following statements applies to your software testing projects:

  • Comments about incompetent developers and nit-picking testers are normal.
  • What test data should be used and where it can be found is always unclear, regardless of how often it has been explained before.
  • The same questions are raised again and again by different people.
  • Features known to be incomplete are tested.
  • People report the same defect over and over again.

All these points may indicate that you communicate poorly in your project. As in real life, communication both within the test team and between the test and development department is the key to successful projects. After all, everybody has the same goal: creating software of high quality. Here are some useful tips that will help you to get the most out of your teams:

Communication between Testers and Developers

  1. Get in touch
    Especially in virtual teams often the only point of interaction between developers and testers are bug tracking system; yet it is especially the written word that causes misunderstandings and leads to pointless extra work. Regular calls and actually talking to each other can work miracles here.
  2. Clarify expectations
    Which information do developers exactly need when you find bugs? Which test areas are of highest priority right now? To avoid extra work, try to settle on some basic guidelines right from the beginning and make sure to communicate or change them whenever necessary.
  3. Create a culture of constructive criticism
    That´s probably the most important point of all. There is one goal and everybody is working on achieving it. Thus, each detected and eliminated bug is a step towards a better piece of software and should be seen as a  great team achievement.

Communication within Test Teams

  1. Get to know each other
    This might sound easy, but it´s surprising how little information testers have about each other, even if they work for the same company. This gets even worse if virtual teams are involved! Sharing information about competences and experiences will result in much more efficient work.
  2. Talk
    Another simple but often neglected point. Testing in a team will lead to great success if you share your knowledge and your findings. Group chats can work for some teams, but routinized and beneficial meetings for others.
  3. Share your test data
    Have you ever found yourself in a situation where testing a specific feature took a lot of time just because you had to ask for test data you could use? This certainly happens every once in a while, and it’s actually not a problem if only you need to do so. However, it does become an issue as soon as everyone else in the test team has to request the required data. So find a way to share you test data with all team members – it´s worth it.
  4. Instantly share news
    There is a new release? There is a temporary problem on one of your test systems? Make sure everybody knows about it.

Last but not least, a major point for everyone involved:

Speak the same language
There is bound to be misunderstandings if everybody talks about the same things in different words. The core of successful team communication is a mutual agreement on the terminology used within your project. Try to write it down, even if it causes extra work. It will help new people get into the subject.

A variety of tools makes communication much easier nowadays and doesn’t require much setup: use shared online documents, create mailing lists, and take advantage of chat systems.

To cut a long story short: cultivate a constructive work environment, make sure to always communicate, and share your knowledge. It´s that easy!